L&T present ‘China Insight’ Sunday school

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Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull yesterday presented their first Sunday event titled ‘China Insight – Appraising the Market and Your Antiques’. Four speakers addressed an audience made up of a collection of collectors, dealers and journalists specifically involved in the Chinese market. Around fifty people attended – what the event lacked in quantity was probably more than compensated for by the quality of the attendees – to hear four speakers address very different areas of the current market.

James Robinson, Keeper of Art & design at The National Museums of Scotland, reflected on the success of the current exhibition Ming: The Golden Empire (closing October 19). He also outlined the renovation plans for the NMS in Chambers Street, Edinburgh. The Asian Gallery is currently closed and will reopen in a more modern style sometime between 2016 and 2018 ‘dependent on funding’.

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James Robinson addresses attendees at L&Ts China Insight in Edinburgh

L& T’s own Asia department chief Lee Young gave an entertaining account of the human stories behind the sales of some of their most successful Chinese items over the last eight years (a summary of this talk will form the basis of a future posting).

After lunch, former British diplomat Claire Smith, formerly based in China and Hong Kong, identified the links between Scotland and China: sailors, captains, botanists, explorers, civil servants, soldiers and employees of the East India Company. The latter allowed its employees to trade on their own account and engaged a disproportionately large number of Scots. One of that number, William Jardine, went on to found the company which would become Jardine Matheson and the company would go on to give preferential treatment to young Scots when it came to employment. Factors such as this have led to the presence of a surprisingly large amount of Chinese antiques, collected purely as ‘souvenirs’, in Scottish houses.

The last speaker was Douglas Strang Stewart, a Scottish-based expert in ceramic conservation (www.ceramicconservationscotland.co.uk). He identified many of the challenges facing restorers and conservationists.